SELMA — The Selma Senior Center hosted its second annual sock hop on Aug. 25, and it seems that each song held a different memory for those who attended.

Sock-hop dances were popular in the 1950s, when teens attending high school dances would remove their shoes to protect their school’s varnished gym floors. Wearing only socks or stockings lets dancers get in better slides in dances like the twist, mashed potatoes and hand jive.

Center Activities Director Allie Contreras said the goal behind the dance was to get the attendees moving on the dance floor, and judging by those twisting, jitterbugging and doing the swing, the event was a success.

“We figured they’d identify with a sock hop more. It’s so fun to see them when they walked in and they start reminiscing about who they saw in concert,” Contreras said. “They’re having fun and it’s so cute. They started telling me their crazy stories. And they go right back to it. It helps them remember the good times.”

Selma’s Jeff Dodd served as deejay for the dance and said the seniors usually prefer fast songs such as “Johnny B. Good” by Chuck Berry or anything by Little Richard with a fast beat so they can move on the dance floor.

“They usually want fast songs because they like to get up and dance," he said. “This is what’s great because people think of seniors as being bedridden or in front of the TV all day, so it’s great because not only are they getting up and dancing, but a lot of them are dressing up and just sharing the memories. Music always brings back memories, and sharing all these memories has been fun."

Leonard and Bertha Leonard were among those dressed up in in 1950s attire of jeans, T-shirt and a poodle skirt.

“It brings back a lot of memories,” Bertha Leonard said. “Before, we used to dance cheek to cheek because we were skinny. Now, we have a belly that separates us a little bit. But we’re still having fun.”

Rebecca Moreno was also dressed up in traditional 1950s-style clothes and helped set up the decorations for the dance.

“It reminds me of my mom and my dad,” she said of the dance. “Since I decorate as a party planner, they had their 50th anniversary and this is how I set it up for them, too. My mom loves to dance, and she taught me how to dance. My dad taught me how to do the stroll,” Moreno said of a popular dance style from the era.

Paula Perez may only be 30, but she was among some of the younger attendees who came because they love everything about the time period.

“I didn’t grow up in that era, but I’m more excited about that time," she said. "I wish I got to live then. I like a lot of the actors, the way they dressed, the food and the sayings. And Elvis Presley, I’m a huge Elvis Presley fan.”

Kingsburg’s Kathy Baker and Kellie Satariano brought their mother, Betty Essman. The trio was all decked out in hair scarves and poodle skirts for the sock hop.

“I’ve always loved the fifties and wanted to have a poodle skirt. I wish it would come back in style and be an everyday thing,” Baker said.

Baker said their father would play music from this time on his piano and their brother would even imitate Elvis.

“We’d dance around and it was a blast," she said. "My daddy lived for the 50s, and we loved it. We have fifties cars and everything.”

Satariano said she recalls her parents and grandparents wearing those poodle-skirt styles when they were young, so as soon as they heard about Selma’s dance, they were more than happy to bring their mom.

“I’m very impressed with our senior centers and the events they have for them," she said. "If they didn’t have anything, they’d be home alone. So instead we get mom out and dressed up and she gets to come and have fun and spend time with us.”

The reporter can be reached at 583-2427 or lbrown@selmaenterprise.com.

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